'He's not close to the class of Warne and MacGill' December 17, 2007

Harbhajan wants Hogg to play at MCG

Cricinfo staff



Harbhajan Singh, who faced up to Andrew Symonds in India, says "if somebody gives it to us, we will give it back" © Getty Images

Harbhajan Singh has taken aim at Brad Hogg by saying he believes there are no quality spinners in Australia behind Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill. With India due to arrive to prepare for the Boxing Day Test, Harbhajan has landed an early verbal blow as Australia consider whether to employ four fast bowlers or look to Hogg.

The Indians would love Hogg to be picked for the MCG. "From our point of view, we would be happy to see how Hogg would go against the best players of spin in the world," Harbhajan told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It would be a big test for him, and we all know how he bowls."

Harbhajan said Hogg was "not close to the class of Warne and MacGill". "If they play Hoggy, I will wish him all the best because I have nothing against him, but I would be happy to see him bowl at our batsmen."

Hogg has been a major weapon for Australia in one-day games, but he has not appeared in a Test since the Zimbabwe series in 2003. He has played only four Tests and was part of the squad for the first match against Sri Lanka in November. MacGill was due to be the No. 1 spinner after Warne's retirement, but that changed when he had surgery on his wrist in the hope of correcting carpal tunnel.

Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, said Australia would be better off not using Hogg on Boxing Day. "It depends on how the pitches are looking, of course, but India doesn't have a problem playing spin," he said in the Herald. "Hogg has been great in one-day cricket but I think ... Australia should use four quicks." Lawson said Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds could chip in to provide the slow bowling.

Lawson, whose team lost a series to India last week, warned the Australians they would not take any physical or verbal backward steps. "They will stand up to whatever is thrown at them," he said. Harbhajan agreed with Lawson's view.

"We're not just going to take it," he said. "If somebody gives it to us, we will give it back. We have the quality in our side, and if we all stick together we can give the Australians a good fight. We respect their team and the kind of cricket they play, but we don't fear them."

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